Blurb: Shanghai, 1928. The body of a blonde is washed up on the Beach of Dead Babies, in the heart of the smog-filled city. Seemingly a suicide, a closer inspection reveals a darker motive: the corpse has been weighed down, it’s lower half mutilated…and the Chinese character for ‘justice’ carved into the chest.
The moment Inspector Danilov lays eyes on the dismembered body, he realises that he has an exceptional case on his hands. And when the first body is followed by another, and another, each displaying a new, bloody message, he has no option but face the truth. He is dealing with the worst kind of criminal; someone determined, twisted…and vengeful.
Someone who must be caught….whatever the cost.
Death in Shanghai is the first novel in M J Lee’s Inspector Danilov series, perfect for fans of Philip Kerr.
My rating and review: 4.5 stars
Knowing I already enjoy historical crime and having loved Boris Akunin’s Fandorin series I was intrigued by the blurb for this book. This is not a book to be read quickly and rushed through but one to be savoured. I admit it took me a little while to get into the story, partly I suspect due to introducing and developing the main characters, but suddenly halfway through everything got going. What had been a steady police investigation suddenly gained pace and intensity and I was completely hooked. I loved the characters (clearly not all of them!) but Danilov and Strachan develop into an excellent team during the course of the book and we begin to understand them as the story progresses and insights into their characters and lives are revealed. The detail and description of Shanghai is excellent, I’ve never been there but I could clearly imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the city. I also loved all the little details, like the meals Strachan had when he got home at night, little details like that made this book stand out for me. I know the second in the series is due out in March and I will definitely be reading it. I have been quite bereft since the Fandorin series ended but I think in Danilov I have found a new detective to follow and I will be impatiently waiting for book 2 and all the subsequent books in the series.
About the author: Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.
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